No matter where I look in my social circles these days, one message seems to resonate everywhere: 2018 was one for the books, and not always in the best of ways. It was similarly full of highs and lows for me, and I want to recap a few of the biggest things I learned as the year went by.
Shine Theory is real, and you need it in your life.
This year I intentionally sought out strong, interesting, powerful women to bring into my life. I have done this on various levels before but never in such a deliberate way. It’s not always an easy process. It demands that we put inspiration before jealousy or insecurity and reach out to folks who are living and manifesting our dreams. It requires vulnerability and in turn, builds bonds. It’s been an honor to watch all of their stories unfold over the course of the year, and to hold space for them however I can as they continue in their journeys. They bring a level of depth, beauty, thought, and candor to my life that has fundamentally altered the way I show up in the world for the better. My advice to you, whoever and wherever you are, is to do the same thing. Seek out powerful women. Make space for them in your lives. Nurture these relationships, and watch as you all bloom brighter than ever before.
Self Care is critical.
As I mentioned in a recent She Explores podcast, I tend to manifest trauma physically. The things I have failed to adequately address on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level add up, taking a toll on my physical health. For a while, I attempted to sweep them under the rug as if I could pretend everything away. It’s a little laughable in hindsight because it’s such a paradoxical response to something I know on a bone-deep level that I must address. But in March of 2018 my body let me know in no uncertain terms that it was done being forgotten and I had to unlearn some damaging habits and welcome some new ones. I had to create a new ritual for myself based in self care and self love rather than guilt or shame. I’m still working on this. I suspect I will always have to. But in a world that tells you it’s wrong to focus on yourself and take the time you need for the care you deserve, allow me to remind you of this: you deserve care. In fact, you require it. It’s the deep well from which all other forms of care and love spring.
Forgiveness and Grace are integral parts of every journey.
I would be lying if I told you I haven’t fucked up over the course of the last year. I make mistakes all the time and sometimes I’m lucky enough to be aware of them, whether that’s because someone raised an issue to me or I was able to discern them myself. I’ll level with you: I hate making mistakes. Part of that is rooted in a desire to both be and be seen as good--a remnant from my childhood and the society we live in. Part of it is rooted in sadness at hurting the people I love or the communities I aim to serve.
When I was younger, I met every mistake with anger and defiance. As I grow, I have learned that my anger only serves my ego and even then, only in a shortsighted way. These days, I try to practice forgiveness and grace for myself so I can get to the root of the mistake and learn a better way forward. Ultimately, mistakes are opportunities to learn. I’m also trying to extend that same forgiveness and grace to others as they follow their own paths. It isn’t easy. There are times when I want to rage against myself and others for doing things that seem so obviously wrong but I have found that when I take a few seconds to breathe and respond with humility and kindness, the conversation always turns out better than it otherwise would have. I hope to carry this lesson and practice into all of my coming years.
Boundaries are healthy.
Over the course of my life I have struggled to draw appropriate, healthy boundaries with people. Sometimes I have been too lax, letting energy vampires into my life who take deeply and endlessly without ever giving back. At other times, especially when I feel threatened or insecure, I have been too intense, building a labyrinth of walls around myself to prevent anyone from getting in. Striking a balance between these two approaches has been an intentional focus of mine over the past year. It’s important to remember that we don’t owe our energy or the most intimate details of ourselves to everyone. We don’t need to be universally liked because frankly, all of us have facets that will rub someone, somewhere, the wrong way. What we do need is to show up with authenticity and integrity, then practice discernment to find the people who resonate with us on a healthy, reciprocal level. For me, that means finding people who embrace candor, laughter, adventure, hard conversations, and a healthy dose of terrible puns and bringing them deep into my circle. It means saying “no thank you” to folks who don’t. Not in a mean way, but firmly all the same. You deserve a community that will support you, keep you accountable, and shower you in love. As the saying goes, build it and they will come.
There you have it, friends. The four biggest takeaways from a year full of incredible moments and deep sorrows. I hope they resonate with some of you and that if you have lessons to share, you’ll drop me a line.
Take care of yourselves and stay safe as you ring in the new year. Sending (very healthy amounts of) love out into the world.